8 Down; 7 To Go

July 1st, with passports in hand, we crossed the border to enter British Columbia and start adventure number eight on our 15 in 15 list.

We quickly realized that some special event was occurring in Vancouver as large crowds swarmed the harbor and vendors lined the street in a carnival type atmosphere. What we assumed was hoopla surrounding the Women’s World Cup taking place in the city and throughout Canada was actually the celebration of Canada Day with a parade and fireworks scheduled for later in the day. What a welcome!


On our second day, we rented bikes and pedaled the perimeter road through Stanley Park checking out the totem poles, lighthouses and enjoying a wild place in the middle of the city. After lunch at the Fish House, we were off to Lighthouse Park overlooking Vancouver for a hike in the woods.

On the morning of day three, we started at Granville Island feasting on fruits and baked goods at the farmer’s market and checking out the shops. Buying was not an option since our luggage was already stuffed beyond capacity.

Our last stop before leaving Vancouver was at Goorin Brothers, a haberdashery, to select hats, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gifts from Emily and Brian. I know, no room in the luggage…we wore the hats on the plane.

The final stop in British Columbia, a hike in Golden Ear.

Then back to the U.S. in time to celebrate the 4th of July and looking forward to more 15 in 15 fun.


Looking for Lighthouses

It only took six months, but we finally started making progress toward our goal of visiting fifteen lighthouses in 2015. As one of the items on our list of 15 in 15, we planned to visit one or two lighthouses each month, but that didn’t happen.

On our drive from Portland to Vancouver, we managed to visit four of these majestic beacons in the state of Washington. The first, located near Long Beach, was North Head Lighthouse.

Also near Long Beach we found Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.


Point Wilson Lighthouse in Port Townsend looking out from Fort Worten made number three.


At Fort Casey State Park, we managed to drive out to Admiralty Head Lighthouse and photograph our fourth lighthouse even though we arrived a half hour before the park opened.


Four lighthouses in two days! I think we’ll make 15 after all.






7 Down; 8 To Go

When John and I planned the list of 15 things we wanted to do in 2015, there were far more items on the list than 15. Nevertheless, we decided to only plan 14 of them, number 15 would be left open to allow for spontaneity. If a concert or festival or something came up that we just couldn’t resist, we could add it to the list of 15 in 15.

Well, without consulting the other half of my team, I decided that this was the year to attend the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. For years, we’ve said this is something we want to do, and when planning our 14 in 14 list we’d agreed that it would be a priority for June 2015. However, an opportunity for a trip to Seattle in June eliminated the College World Series trip…just not enough time to do both.


But as the season progressed, I felt this was the year to go. Not only could we enjoy the Omaha experience, it seemed like 2015 may also be the year we could cheer for the University of Miami Hurricanes team in baseball heaven. So, in mid-May, before the teams had been determined, I booked a flight and purchased tickets for five games, and crossed my fingers that John would think this was a great idea.

Good news! While surprised that I made the decision without getting his input, he was 100% on board with making a trip to Omaha and the CWS the fifteenth event on our list this year.


After flying from Orlando Sanford to Des Moines, we rented a car, drove a couple hours and were in our seats for the Miami v Arkansas game. The team didn’t let me down. They made it to the tournament, and we cheered them on as they won Game #5, our opening game experience.

We saw all eight teams compete, including two from Florida and two representing the ACC. We were two of 25,000+ spectators in the stadium each game. We watched fans celebrate the winning teams as they boarded the bus after the game. And of course there were hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream, cotton candy, peanuts, an organist playing live music between innings, the batting of beach balls in the outfield, and the wave taking over the stadium.

And while, it would have been nice to see the Canes continue in the series, it was a great event. Turns out the College World Series was the perfect addition to round out the list of 15 in 15…7 Down; 8 To Go.


6 Down; 9 To Go

I must admit my enthusiasm for celebrating retirement with dinner at Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa did not match that of John’s. For well over a year, this has been a topic of conversation and while I’m always interested in a good meal, the menu for Bern’s terrified me.


Appetizers listed ranging in price from $12.95 – $190.00, with most in the $20 range seem extravagant and this followed by soups and salads and vegetables at about $10 each, even sliced tomatoes are listed at $8.95. All I could think about was whether or not we’d be able to qualify for a loan for our dinner.

Finally I got up the nerve to look at the steak portion of the menu. After all, that’s why we’d be going to a Steakhouse…$34-$118…I wasn’t sure I could eat something that expensive, and I certainly wasn’t going to even bother looking at the dozens of pages on the wine menu.


I didn’t voice my concerns. This was something John really wanted to do and I wasn’t going to spoil it so it was added to the list for 15 in 15…and I’m so glad it was!

This week we were joined by our good friends, Kay and Karen, fellow 2015 retirees, for an evening at Bern’s Steakhouse. No, we didn’t order appetizers. I don’t know who could eat them when the steak is served with soup and bread, salad, a baked potato, two vegetables, and onion rings. That’s more than enough food for me and best of all it was all included in the price listed for the steak. So that $40 steak was really the price of the full dinner and complete dining experience, and it was an experience.

For two hours our waiter attended to our every desire as he brought out each course of the meal. And did I mention that the steak was the best I’ve ever eaten?

Following dinner, we took the kitchen tour and visited the wine cellar on the way to the dessert room. Somehow, after all the food eaten at dinner, we managed to eat dessert tucked away in a private booth. I guess they figure guests will eat more if they aren’t worried about being judged by other diners.

I’m glad Bern’s Steakhouse made our list of 15 in 15. Sure it was pricey, but it was also well worth it. We enjoyed delicious food as well as a wonderful dining experience.


Maybe we’ll have to make a return trip for our anniversary in August?




4 Down; 11 To Go

Visiting Fairchild Gardens for Chihuly Nights made our list of must do’s for 2015. Driving to South Florida just behind a storm, we worried that the evening would be washed out; but instead the post storm sky at sunset stole the show.

The Chihuly sculptures were magical as promised, but the pink clouds reflected in the art infused water was otherworldly.

When darkness finally set in, the lighted artwork served as a guide through the park.

An evening in the garden sprinkled with the illuminated artwork kicked off a wonderful weekend in Miami.

A triathlon, two weddings and Chihuly Nights…four events completed on the list of 15 in 15.


3 Down; 12 To Go

When my nephew, Steven, called last spring to announce his engagement to Katie, I knew that a trip to an out of state wedding would be part of this year’s 15 in 15. And once the date and location was set, planning began for a long weekend in Virginia.

We started in Richmond with walks down Monument Avenue and along the James River.

Then we were off to Charlottesville where we checked into the house we rented at Rosneath Farm. A perfect place for the family to hang out while waiting for wedding festivities.

IMG_7677On a cold, wet morning we set out to explore the Barboursville Ruins, the burned house of Virginia governor James Barbour. A house that had been designed by Thomas Jefferson.

We also had time to drive the Skyline in Shenandoah National Park, take a walk from Monticello, and visit Appomattox Court House National Historic Park for the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the stacking of the arms signaling the end of the Civil War.

And of course, we enjoyed the main event…Steve and Katie’s wedding.

Best wishes to the newlyweds!


2 Down; 13 To Go

Nobody would ever all me a triathlete. I don’t run. I don’t swim. And I ride a bike so slowly it takes excellent balance to stay upright.

However, after completing the Tamiami Triathlon last year (a real event sponsored by the National Park Service), we decided to make a triathlon an annual event. The three events in the Everglades, completed over the course of two days, included a hike through the swamp, a paddle across the bay, and a bike ride on a paved trail in Shark Valley so we decided to create our own set of similar events at one of Florida’s state parks.

After looking at several options, we decided to make this a one day event right in our backyard at Silver Springs State Park. We started with a bike ride on the Ross Trail through the Silver River portion of the park. Upon our return, I noticed the sign that indicated the trail was for advanced riders and since I returned alive, I guess I can now consider myself an advanced mountain biker.

Before embarking on phase two, we ate lunch on the picnic tables in the grassy area by the museum, and then rode our bikes on the path along CR35 to the entrance of Silver Springs on SR40.

We rented a two person kayak from the rental concession and paddled to the Silver River and then up to the springs. The path took us by several of the attractions from the old park..an Indian village, a fort, and the jungle cruise, and of course, there were plenty of turtles, gators, and birds along our leisurely path.

Finally, for the hike, we biked back to the Silver River entrance and hiked along the Sinkhole Trail…not the best marked trail, but a nice walk and a good way to end the day.

We began at 11:30 Sunday morning and completed the Silver River Triathlon by 4:30 that afternoon. Another Triathlon in the books and looking forward to next year’s event.

1 Down; 14 To Go

In 2013, John came up with a brilliant idea of creating a yearly bucket list of places to go and things to do which has become an annual tradition. We’ve found shark’s teeth, visited Florida’s springs, swam with manatee, and watched the sunrise over the Atlantic and the sunset over the Gulf in the same day.

It’s hard to believe we didn’t complete the first item on the 15 in 15 list until midway through February, but it was a big one. Sarah’s and Daniel’s wedding marked the first event in our list of 15 in 15, and what an event!

IMG_6363After a few pre-ceremony pictures, it was off to the church.

The culmination of days of decorating and months of preparation, Sarah and Daniel walked down the aisle and said “I do” on Saturday, February 14th.

Then off to the reception to spend time with family and friends celebrating Mr. and Mrs. Daniel and Sarah Patty. #PattyParty2015

It may have taken six weeks to reach the 1 down, 14 to go mark, but it was well worth it! Congratulations Sarah and Daniel.

*Most photos without credit given were taken by my wonderful husband, John. I’ve tried to give credit to photos taken by others, but if I missed you and you’d like credit, please leave me a comment and I’ll be happy to update.

15 in 15

Two years ago we started a tradition of developing a list of things we’d like to accomplish during the year. The list includes places to go and activities to participate.
Time is set aside on January 1st to discuss the ideas each of us has listed throughout the year so we can choose the items for the year. This year’s list started with more than two dozen suggestions and after adding those included on both our lists, we talked about the pros and cons of each of the remaining activities.
Some of the things to consider before adding to the list:
Is it something both of us want to do?
Do we have time to do it?
Can the activities be disbursed throughout the year?
Are the costs manageable?
This year’s list includes two weddings, two big trips, monarch butterflies, lighthouses, camping, and a triathlon. Looks like it’s going to be a busy year.
In preparation for creating the 15 in 15 list, we spent time on New Year’s Eve looking at our pictures from 2014 of the 14 activities we checked the year’s list.
A trip in Birmingham to visit John’s aunt and uncle.

Completion of the Tamiami Triathlon in the Everglades.

Eating pancakes at DeLeon Springs.

A camping trip in Southwest Florida during Spring Break.

Searching for and funding shark’s teeth.

Visiting springs of Florida.

Learning to make paella.

Watching sunrise on the Atlantic and sunset on the Gulf in the same day.

Spending sunrise at the Boneyard on Amelia Island.

Riding the Ft. Gates Ferry across the St. John’s River.

IMG_5748.JPGRelaxing and having fun during Family Weekend.

IMG_5676.JPGParticipating in a Bioluminescence Paddle.

IMG_5750.JPGSpending the day at Fairchild Gardens enjoying the Chihuli display.

IMG_5688.JPGSwimming with manatee.


What a year!